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Adams, Winifred Flowers in a Copper Bowl, 1909


Winifred Brady Adams was born in Muncie and studied there under William Forsyth and J. Ottis Adams, who became her husband in 1898. She studied also at the Drexel Institute in Philadelphia and at the Art Students League in New York City. She is well known for her still-life paintings. She painted flowers from her own garden, often in copper or old china vases from her collection. The vases generally were painted to reflect the many colors in the compositions.

  • Flowers in a Copper Bowl, 1909
  • 22″ x 30″
  • David Owsley Museum of Art, Ball State University
  • Keywords: paintings, still lifes, oil on canvas
  • Subjects: flowers, vessels, vases

This still life has been painted in a complementary color scheme of orange and blue. The background serves to make the copper bowl, flowers, and brass pot stand out. The touches of light—highlighting—enhance the viewer’s perception of the three-dimensional forms.

Some Points To Consider

  • Point out to students how Winifred Adams used highlights to make the copper bowl look three dimensional. Ask them why they think there would be flower petals on the table. Ask them to explain why the petals are a sensory, formal, technical, or expressive property of this work. (Art 4.3.1)
  • Ask students to describe what they like about this painting and what parts of it they think have been painted well. Encourage them to speculate about why people like still lifes and why artists like to create them. If the artist used this painting to practice her skills, what do they think she learned about color, texture, and form? (Art 4.5.1, 4.5.2)

Suggested Activities for Classroom Follow-Up

  • Use this painting as an introduction to discuss foreground, middleground, and background. Project the image so students can refer to it while they outline on drawing paper the painting’s major shapes in those three areas.
  • Have students make monochromatic paintings of a still life using only one color plus white and black.